Forget boyfriend's proposal and focus on your children
Q. I am a divorced mom of two girls, 7 and 9. I have been dating my boyfriend three years and hope to marry him. He says he will move in and propose immediately if I change my custody arrangement so that the kids spend more time with their dad and less with us. (It's not that he doesn't like them, he just isn't interested in being a full-time stepdad, which I understand.)
I really want to marry this man, but everyone squawks that you should never choose a boyfriend over your kids. However, in this case, I feel like I wouldn't be choosing him, I'd just be modifying our arrangements so everyone is more comfortable.
My ex-husband is a great dad and the girls love visiting him. What do you think — does my boyfriend's compromise sound reasonable?
A. Reasonable? Try appalling.
His lack of interest in being a stepfather is, in fact, perfectly reasonable. Not everyone wants kids, and no one should be pressured to have them.
However, he apparently thinks it's just fine to apply the reverse pressure to you: He's demanding of a mother that she be less of one. Just because he wants that.
I hope your writing in means you have doubts. If so, trust them. If he had a decent fiber in his body, he wouldn't suggest sending your kids — any kids — the message that they aren't wanted. If he had a molecule of love for you, he wouldn't ask you to be the messenger. The word I want to use for him is the name of a certain farm animal, but I've heard they're actually quite intelligent and misunderstood, so I won't sully their reputation further with the association.
Of course, there is one thing more appalling than his self-prioritization: It's that you are actively trying to justify selling out your kids. Maybe you'd deserve the man you'd get for these efforts, but your girls certainly don't.
Here's a tip: Let friend be as generous as she would like
Q. A friend and I go out eat a few times a year. We went last month and the bill was $21. I had a $20 and she had a $10 and a $5. I told her to keep her $5 and left $30, which I thought was more than generous. My friend wanted to leave her $5 also, saying, "It's Christmas," and making me feel like Scrooge.
My friend does this to me every time we eat out. I recognize that she once worked as a waitress and now wants to be generous, but I resent the fact that she is trying to make me feel cheap.
Frustrated By the Over-Tipper
A. So — she's generous only to humiliate you?
I get the math that she's over-tipping, but not that she's "making" you feel anything. Even in the worst case — if, say, she's deliberately upping the tip just to bother you — we're still talking a few bucks a few times a year. Why grant her that kind of power, so cheaply?
Why are you spending time with her at all if you think so little of her motives?
Tip as much as you deem appropriate, let her spend her five bucks as she sees fit. Choosing to see the best in people is the kind of generosity that doesn't cost you a thing.